August 25, 2010
Stories sampled over the past week include:
- Big environmental law news in the US this week was the the Obama administration's intervenetion in the appeal of AEP v. Connecticut to the U.S. Supreme Court – in support of coal-fired plants and against the state of New York and climate change activists. The land mark decision of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September held that the coal fire plants could be sued under the common law of nuisance for contributing to global warming. The decision generated a lot of excitement among environmental lawyers, including in Canada, and many are now very disappointed to see the Obama administration asking that the decision be overturned.
- TED Talks has posted a presentation by Lisa Margonelli of the New America Foundation on the Political Chemistry of Oil Spills. Although it takes a few minutes to watch, Lisa makes a couple of crucial points. First, Oil Spills too often result in theatre aimed at assigning blame to oil company executives rather than real changes to our laws. She suggests an interesting idea of gas stations being required to provide a medical (or perhaps an environmental) warning putting gas taxes into their proper context. I worry that such warnings would quickly be ignored (as warnings on cigarettes often are), but it’s an intriguing thought. Lisa has also written about some other interesting ideas about regulating oil drilling.
- Fish farm activist, Alexandra Morton, has noticed that many of BC’s fish farms are operating under leases from the provincial government that have expired. Her clever response is to make her own application for those leases. But the situation raises fundamental questions about whether the province is regulating the fish farm industry’s use of the province’s sea-bed. How could BC not have noticed that these leases had lapsed and either required a new lease or taken action to have farms without leases moved?
- The BC Auditor General issued an important report on BC’s failure to protect the ecological integrity of the province’s parks. The BC Government Employees Union issued a press release pointing out that many of the problems identified in the report originated with cuts to Parks staff several years back, quoting extensively from West Coast Environmental Law’s report Please Hold.
- The Dawson Creek Daily news has published an article about an EDRF client, the Peace Environment and Safety Trustees Society, and their grant from the fund. As always, if you know British Columbians who need environmental legal aid, refer them to us.
- Toronto’s Zizzo Allan Climate Law has a blog post summarizing the available statistics measuring how Canada is doing on fighting climate change – it ain’t pretty, folks!
- Although not terribly legal in focus, I love this video about a large rooftop garden planted in New York City. West Coast has worked on green cities and sustainable agriculture, so the video brings together two of our passions.
As always, we’d welcome your comments on any of these stories.